MARLBORO – Box outs. Close outs. Selling out.

All three share a common thread, actions that connect heady intellect and execution with hearty hustle. They may not be the glamorous images that spawn viral highlights but they are the core principles etched in granite for Red Bank Catholic, points of emphasis within a defensive foundation that has long been the Caseys’ trademark.

They seemed to be a bit more magnified Thursday afternoon, essentials necessary to neutralize a Marlboro style predicated on doing significant damage from long range, yet elusive when trying to seal off the angles its crashing rebounders take to the boards as they fly under the radar and in from the perimeter.

Red Bank Catholic had them all accounted for, a testament to its allegiance to the aforementioned nuances. With 6-2 junior forward Nicole Stanford leading a stockade of sizable retrievers commanding the paint and 5-6 senior Julia Setaro, 6-2 freshman Justine Pissott and 5-11 junior Fab Eggenschwiler energetically foiling 3-point attempts with their combinations of smarts and length, the fifth-ranked Caseys checked all the boxes in their defensive game plan and let the offense take care of itself in order to outlast No.7 Marlboro, 51-48.

Red Bank Catholic (5-2) limited Marlboro (6-2) to eight 3-pointers – two below its season average – and boasted a telling 47-23 edge on the glass, led by Stanford, a spot starter who answered the call with 13 rebounds, four blocks and four points.

“We’ve been starting (6-4 freshman) Ally (Carman) but I thought Nicole was the right way to go because she is a veteran,” Red Bank Catholic coach Joe Montano said of playing a hunch. “In other games, I watched Marlboro get rebounds and putbacks. Nicole and Ally, in big spots, got big rebounds. When kids are running in from the 3-point line to get a rebound, that’s a tough assignment. I thought we blocked out and our girls did a good job of denying that.”

“Before the game, he told me I have to get rebounds,” said Stanford of the top priority Montano assigned her. “My mentality was get as many as I can. If we didn’t box out, their girls would get rebounds. We all had to work together on the boards and push it up the floor.”

Stanford was a key figure in a third-quarter charge that created some breathing room for the Caseys. RBC came out of halftime clinging to a 23-20 lead but used a 12-3 tear to create a 35-23 gap midway through the period. Stanford provided a foul-line jumper, a layup, four rebounds and a blocked shot during the uprising, working both ends with a tireless work rate.

Setaro was equally involved. Twice, she squeezed her way inside to convert layups and came up with a steal as well as a rejection.

“Part of their game plan is hyping things up and trapping,” Setaro said of the obstacles Marlboro poses. “It was important for us to be under control and handle the ball. We had to keep calm, rebound, talk on defense, stay under control and exceed their energy. We have to do that every game.”

With the defense sustaining a ferocity to go with an upper hand on the glass, Red Bank Catholic added offensive balance to secrure its triumph. Eggenschwiler (four rebounds, three assists) and Carman (four rebounds, two blocks) each scored 10 points, Setaro (eight rebounds) netted all of her eight points in the second half and sophomore guard Sophia Sabino (three rebounds, four assists) and Pissott (seven rebounds, four assists) sank six apiece.

Despite it all, Marlboro still found a way to make RBC sweat. The Mustangs closed the gap to 39-32 by the end of the third and used a 12-6 rush to draw to within 49-48 with 2:24 to play, fueled by 3-pointers from sophomore guard Sammy Jay, junior guard Samantha Nocco and sophomore forward Jessica Riepe.

However, Riepe’s bucket that stamped the challenge proved the last Marlboro would get. The Mustangs were induced into two late turnovers and fired off just one shot over the balance of the contest, which Pissott concluded with two foul shots in the waning seconds.

Senior guard Gisella Romeo had a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds, Nocco ended with 10 points and Riepe added eight points and six boards for Marlboro.

Red Bank Catholic (5-2)  10           13           16           12 --- 51
Marlboro (6-2)                  07           13           12           16 --- 48

Red Bank Catholic: Sophia Sabino 3-0-0-6; Justine Pissott 2-0-2-6; Toni Panayides 1-1-0-5; Fab Eggenschwiler 5-0-0-10; Nicole Stanford 2-0-0-4; Julia Setaro 4-0-0-8; Shaelyn Sabino 0-0-0-0; Grace Wilson 1-0-0-2; Ally Carman 5-0-0-10.

Marlboro: Alexandra O’Hare 0-0-0-0; Gisella Romeo 6-1-0-15; Sam Nocco 0-2-4-10; Ashley Horowitz 0-1-0-3; Sammy Jay 0-1-0-3; Danielle Schlesinger 1-0-0-2; Samantha Slofkiss 2-0-0-4; Laura Morehead 0-1-0-3; Jessica Riepe 1-2-0-8.

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